'It's almost an epidemic,' lawmaker says of teacher-student sex cases

Pa. Rep. David Maloney proposes bills to protect children in schools

'It's almost an epidemic,' lawmaker says of sex cases

A Berks County lawmaker is trying to get to the governor's desk a pair of bills that would stop "passing the trash."

Pennsylvania Rep. David Maloney, R-Berks Co., wants schools to require a detailed employment history review to protect children from child predators running rampant in schools.

Over the past two years, at least 10 school employees in Berks County have been accused of having a sexual relationship with students.

Jennifer Wolfe, a former color guard instructor at Reading High School, was arrested Thursday. Wolfe, 32, is accused of sexually abusing a 17-year-old student for six months.

"It is that misuse of authority for maltreatment of children that crosses the line to abuse. That's what's concerning," said George Kovarie, executive director of Berks County Children & Youth Services.

Kovarie said he is not sure why but CYS is seeing a greater number of female perpetrators than ever before, and many are in schools.

"Well, it's almost an epidemic. I mean, it's so sad," said Maloney.

Maloney's legislation would require a background check on all school employees who would have direct contact with children. The bill would also prohibit schools from hiding a problem, which would offer the employee a chance to get hired at another school where they could continue their predatory behavior. Maloney wants to stop what's been dubbed, "passing the trash."

"So we would know if one of those school employees had violated the trust or had misconduct with a child we could stop them from going to another school district," said Maloney.

The legislation passed the House of Representatives and now awaits a vote in the Senate.

Children & Youth Services said children will leave clues if they've been abused. Parents need to pay attention and ask questions, and teachers need to respect boundaries.

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